This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Agony Booth review: Stephen King's It (1990)

This is a review of a miniseries that first aired on ABC.
With a new cinematic version of Stephen King’s 1986 novel It due to hit theaters in September, I thought I’d take a look at the previous adaptation of that classic novel: a miniseries which aired on ABC in the fall of 1990.

Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, who had previously directed the underappreciated Halloween III: Season of the Witch, this story begins with Maine librarian Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid) realizing that he must summon his six childhood friends back to their hometown of Derry when he discovers that recent murders of children are linked to a malevolent force which takes on the guise of a clown named Pennywise (Tim Curry). Mike and his friends thought they destroyed the entity thirty years earlier, and made a pact to return if Pennywise ever re-emerged.

Mike first calls Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas), who’s now a best-selling horror novelist living in England with his actress wife Audra (Olivia Hussey). Mike’s phone call prompts Bill to remember when his younger self (Jonathan Brandis) gave his kid brother Georgie (Tony Dakota) a paper boat. George went out to play with it in the rain, only to be murdered by Pennywise when the clown tore his arm off, killing him. Ben’s recollection makes him quickly hop on the next plane to the States, to Audra’s confusion and dismay.

The next call is to Ben Hanscom (John Ritter), who’s a successful architect living in New York. Mike’s call quickly ends his romantic evening as Ben soon goes to the top of a building under construction, booze in hand, and reminisces about his younger self (Brandon Crane), who was harassed because of his weight by town bully Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard). On his way home, having become smitten with new classmate Beverly Marsh (Emily Perkins), young Ben runs into Henry and his gang. They chase him down to a forested area known as the Barrens, where Ben eludes them, but not before Henry picks on Bill and Eddie Kaspbrak (Adam Faraizl). After the bullies leave, Ben befriends Bill and Eddie, and they agree to hang out together again. But as Ben returns home, he hears and sees his deceased father, inviting him to live with him in the sewers. Ben’s old man soon turns into Pennywise and this recollection prompts the adult Ben to tremble.

The third call is to the adult Beverly (Annette O’Toole), who’s a Chicago fashion designer. She receives Mike’s call after she and her abusive boyfriend Tom Rogan (Ryan Michael) are celebrating after making a successful deal for their business. When Tom strikes her for wanting to fulfill her promise to her friends, Beverly promptly kicks his ass and storms out. During her cab ride to the airport, Beverly reminisces about receiving an anonymous love note. Said note is from Ben, who watches from a distance as Beverly storms out of her house when her abusive father finds the note. Ben invites her to the Barrens where she meets Bill and Eddie. They are soon joined by preppy Stan Uris (Ben Heller) and comedic Richie Tozier (Seth Green, yes, that Seth Green). The six spend the afternoon building a damn which Ben has designed. On their way home, Ben notices the eyes Beverly and Bill are making at each other. That night, Beverly is washing up when she hears a voice in the bathroom sink. A balloon emerges from the sink and pops, splashing blood over her. She frantically informs her dad, but he apparently sees nothing amiss when he investigates. Beverly then assuages his doubts by saying that a spider came out of the sink. As her dad leaves, Beverly cowers in fear (both in the bathroom and in the cab) as Pennywise’s voice tells her she’ll die if she tries to stop him.

We next cut to Los Angeles, where adult Richie (Harry Anderson) is a successful comedian. Though he’s not laughing when Mike’s call comes through, and is soon vomiting in his bathroom. Richie’s flashback begins with the six friends watching the classic I Was a Teenage Werewolf at the movie theater. Eddie accidentally kicks popcorn onto Henry and his gang seated below them. Our six heroes bolt, but not before Richie spices things up by pouring his Coke on them.

At school the next day, Richie and Stan take note of how distraught their friends have recently become. Richie and Henry get into a brief scuffle, which is stopped by the principal, who orders Richie to get a mop to clean the mess up. Upon reaching the maintenance closet, Richie sees a werewolf that turns into a tormenting Pennywise. Racing back upstairs, Richie’s claims are (predictably) met with laughter.

The adult Eddie (Dennis Christopher), who runs a successful limousine business in New York, confesses to his overbearing mother that he must return to Derry. Despite her protests, Eddie promptly heads for the train station. En route, he reminisces about the time when his mom also told him to never take showers at the school gym so as not to get anyone else’s germs. But Eddie’s PE coach forces the issue, and we next see Eddie alone in the shower. The shower necks soon grow, pushing Eddie to the center of the shower. His asthma acts up when he sees Pennywise’s hand in the floor drain. The clown soon makes enough room to pop out and torment Eddie.

We next see Mike alone in the library reminiscing about the day he met his six friends. After his interest in Derry’s history unnerves his teacher, Mike is accosted by Henry and his gang. They chase him to where the other six kids are hanging out. Henry calls the seven “the Losers’ Club” and tells them to get lost, but they tell him to piss off by throwing rocks at the bullies. Henry leaves, promising to kill them. Mike thanks his new friends, and they celebrate by having a 1960s-style selfie with Mike’s camera. The “Lucky Seven”, as they now call themselves, next go through Mike’s book, which is a collection of town images his dad collected. They soon see that Pennywise figures in a number of pics from nearly two centuries earlier. One such picture comes to life in front of them, with Pennywise leaping forward, saying he’s their worst nightmare.

Mike’s flashback ends when he sees footprints in the library, along with a balloon, which pops. He’s frightened upon hearing Pennywise laugh.

The adult Stan (Richard Masur) is a real estate broker in Atlanta, Georgia. He and his wife are cuddling with Perfect Strangers playing in the background when Mike calls. When Mike informs him that Pennywise is back, Stan is unable to tell Mike that he’ll fulfill his promise to return, and after the call ends, he calmly tells his wife that’s he’s going upstairs to take a bath.

As he gets ready to do so, Stan flashes back to when he and the other prepared to go into Derry’s sewers to vanquish Pennywise. After some of them attempt to perfect their skills with a slingshot, Beverly is picked to do the honors when she gets perfect hits each time. The skeptical Stan is still unconvinced that Pennywise can be killed, but Bill produces silver projectiles that he says will do the trick if they believe they will.

Henry and his gang clandestinely follow the seven and soon kidnap Stan. But before they do him in, Pennywise emerges as a bright light and kills Henry’s two cronies. This gives Stan a chance to escape before Henry himself is left in a terrified state, his hair now white.

Stan reunites with his friends and they form a circle in order to combat Pennywise. But the clown quickly appears and is about to kill Stan when Eddie fights him with what he claims is battery acid. This gives Beverly the chance she needs to fire one of her spheres, which takes off a piece of the clown’s head, showing light beneath. Pennywise then forces himself into the sewer drain below, and after a brief struggle, seems to perish. Upon exiting the sewer, the seven make their pact to return to Derry if Pennywise isn’t dead.

The next scene is of Stan’s wife coming up to the bathroom, only to find her husband has slit his wrists. As she cries out, we see that Stan’s blood has spilled the word “IT” on the bathroom wall.

Part two of this miniseries begins with the remaining six friends reuniting. Bill visits Georgie’s grave and reunites with Mike, before Pennywise appears to them in a deck of Bicycle playing cards. Richie is tormented by It in the library, as is Ben when he returns to the spot near the sewers where he first saw It, and also Beverly when she visits her dad (whom It impersonates as a rotting corpse), and Eddie when he goes to the local general store.

Despite this terror, the six meet up for dinner at a Chinese restaurant and catch up, with Mike informing them that Henry was sent to an institution after he confessed to the killings 30 years earlier. Pennywise then prompts them to head to the library after their fortune cookies come apart in various sickening ways.

Once at the library, they learn that Stan is dead. When Mike opens his small fridge, balloons emerge before our heroes see what seems to be Stan’s head in the fridge. “Stan” greets them all before his voice becomes that of Pennywise, and a pouring rain comes down. The group form a circle to drive off It’s influence.

At the same time, Pennywise manages to get Henry out of his cell, but not before the clown renders Audra catatonic when she arrives in Derry to find her husband. Both go to the hotel that the six friends have regrouped at. Henry attacks Mike, while Pennywise distracts Ben in a scene reminiscent to one in The Shining by acting romantic with him using Beverly’s form (and I thought Frank-N-Furter making out with someone was nightmarish!). But the wounded Mike is saved by Ben and Eddie, with Henry killed in the brief struggle.

At the hospital, Ben and Beverly confess their love before they learn Mike will recover. In his hospital room, Mike tells Bill that he returned to the sewer a few years earlier and retrieved the silver spheres. But Mike’s five friends are still uncertain about combating Pennywise again, until Bill convinces them to do some soul searching.

While Richie remains reluctant, he joins the other four as they make their way down to It’s lair again. They discover Audra’s purse but press on, resisting the image of Georgie. Our heroes then find Pennywise’s hiding place, which is littered with many bodies hanging from the ceiling, including Audra. It then takes the form of a huge spider, which renders Bill, Ben, and Richie catatonic before Eddie works up the courage to distract it again. It then fatally wounds Eddie, giving Beverly a good shot, and freeing the other three. The wounded It scampers away, prompting all four to literally rip It to shreds before It can escape again.

With Pennywise finally vanquished, a recovered Mike notes that Richie has resumed his career, Ben and Beverly are married, and Bill is attempting to bring Audra back. Just as the couple is about to leave, Bill gets the idea to ride with Audra on his bicycle, Silver. The fast trip down Derry’s streets revives her, and the movie ends with them embracing, traffic be damned!

As is often the case, the book is better than the movie. However, this adaptation certainly does it justice. The moments with our heroes as children do a slightly better job at capturing the spirit of the book, but the adult actors are fine, as well. My only complaint is the spider Pennywise becomes at the climax, which is cheesy, to say the least.

But the scene-stealer is definitely Curry, whose Pennywise deservedly became a beloved horror icon. Interestingly enough, this aired at virtually the same time Rob Reiner’s great adaptation of King’s Misery hit cinemas.

While the climax could’ve used a little work, this is a nice, spooky film and more worthy of its title than Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Agony Booth review: Batman (1966-1968)

With the recent passing of Adam West, this article looks at the classic TV series that became his legacy.
The recent passing of Adam West (and in such close proximity to that of Sir Roger Moore!) has already led to a beautiful tribute to him being written on this site by one of my colleagues. So I’d like to take this opportunity to look back at the Batman TV series which aired on ABC from 1966-1968 and became West’s legacy. Specifically, I’ll look at five aspects that made the show, and by extension West, so endearing to millions.

1. The theme music

Despite the later films from Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan, I doubt there’s anybody that can think about music relating to Batman without hearing this show’s theme song in their minds, even for a brief moment. My oldest niece has even chanted it in the past.

Neal Hefti’s “Batman Theme” instantly told audiences at the beginning of each episode of the series that they were in for a fun time. The animated title sequences which accompanied the music added to the fun. It’s no surprise that this theme song has been endlessly parodied in the decades since.

2. The villains

Of all the superheroes (whether from Marvel Comics, Dark Horse, or the Caped Crusader’s own DC Comics), Batman has always had the best rogues gallery. One advantage that a TV series often has over a movie series is that it can take its time developing numerous characters. The series understood that and took full advantage of its format to give us plenty of Batman’s adversaries in all their flamboyant glory. Both Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith, to this day, remain the definitive takes on the Riddler and the Penguin, respectively. This is because, unlike the subsequent movies with Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Danny DeVito’s Penguin, the series allowed Gorshin and Meredith enough time to truly create these characters.

Then there was the Joker, played in the series by Cesar Romero. While Jack Nicholson and later Heath Ledger would become acclaimed for their takes on this character, Romero was the first to prove that a criminal wearing clown makeup could indeed pose a threat that only a superhero could deal with.

In addition, this series gave us not one, but three actresses playing Catwoman: Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Meriwether. All three were memorable in the role, showing great chemistry with West.

Newmar played Catwoman the most (in the show’s first two seasons), which is why she’s arguably the most remembered of the three actresses to play the role. But Kitt (who played Catwoman in the third season) and Meriwether (who played the role in the the 1966 theatrical film which premiered in between the show’s first two seasons) managed to be memorable in the role as well. Kitt’s Catwoman managed to break racial boundaries on TV at the same time that Nichelle Nichols’s Uhura was doing the same on Star Trek. While Meriwether only played the character in the movie, she did return in two subsequent episodes playing another character who, like Catwoman, was a love interest for Bruce Wayne. All three actresses did memorable work with the role because, unlike the Catwomen played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Anne Hathaway, or Halle Berry, they were never overshadowed by confusing plot lines or less interesting villains.

Like many later Batman films, this series often had some of its villains team up against our hero. Indeed, the 1966 theatrical film had Batman fighting the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman. The good news is these villainous team ups were always fun, with each bad guy having their chance in the spotlight.

There were also Bat-villains that were made specifically for the series. Of these, my favorite is Egghead, played by Vincent Price. The character was a bald-headed mastermind with a penchant for placing the prefix “egg” on any words he could (such as “egg-xactly”, “egg-xchange”, “egg-xplitives”, and “egg-xquisite”). Price had already become a legend by the time this series premiered, hence he was already known for his on-screen villainy. His genius in playing bad guys was, in part, due to how he was clearly having the time of his life whenever he was acting villainous on screen. Egghead was certainly one of the finest examples of that, making Price a perfect fit for this series.

3. The cliffhangers

For the first two seasons of the series, Batman aired two episodes on consecutive nights each week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin being captured and about to be done away with by the Bat-villain of the week. An announcer (Batman series creator William Dozier, who wasn’t credited for the narration) would then wonder if this would be the end of the Dynamic Duo before advising viewers to tune into the next episode, “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!”

Yes, the desperate situation would be resolved within the first five minutes of the next episode, but this method succeeded in making the audience want to see that next episode.

Cliffhanger serials had been a staple of cinema throughout the 1920s-’50s, before the rise of television basically brought them to an end. There were even Batman serials in the 1940s. But while TV shows even in the ’60s occasionally had two-part episodes, none during that period could generate the wonderful sense of anticipation that Batman did for the next installment. Looking back today, one could argue that Batman doing this would pave the way for cliffhangers on future series, such as Dallas and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The show would air only once a week during its final season, with mainly self-contained stories. But the episodes would end with a tag announcing the villain Batman would lock horns with the following week, once again whetting our appetites for the next installment.

4. Robin

While some comic fans hate the fact that Batman’s sidekick even exists, there’s no doubt that this character became Watson to Batman’s Holmes. As played by Burt Ward, Dick Grayson/Robin was a nice compliment to West’s Batman/Bruce Wayne. Some may hate how often he said, “Holy (insert word), Batman!” Heck, Batman Forever even parodied this. But I must admit, I did have fun trying to figure out how many times Robin could express astonishment in that way (turns out it was a lot, and happened in pretty much every episode).

That aside, West and Ward never failed to show great teamwork during the show’s run, making the POWs! and OOOFs! that would appear on screen when our heroes fought bad guys endearing rather than insufferable. This helped make the show truly a comic book come to life.

Even when the show added Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (Yvonne Craig) in its third season to revive ratings, Ward’s chemistry with West remained strong. They made the show’s simplistic morality as effective to kids as any after-school special. Heck, I’d say even more so, because what kid wouldn’t want to watch an after-school special with superheroes as the main characters?

ABC cancelled the series after three seasons and 120 episodes because of poor ratings. But NBC was willing to pick up the show for a fourth year. Tragically, the sets for the show had already been torn down before that deal was finalized.

5. Batman

None of the four strong previous points would have made this show a success had it not had a strong anchor in the lead role. West never failed in making Batman heroic and noble. While some may argue that later Batmans had cooler-looking Bat-suits, West’s Bat-attire was the textbook example of how to look super-heroic. His Batman was a perfect reflection of the optimistic spirit of the ’60s, as well as how Batman was presented in the comics at that time. The character himself became more lighthearted during the 1950s and ’60s, mainly because of concerns that superhero comics would be blamed for the corruption of America’s youth and come to the same premature end as grisly comics such as The Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt. So, whether you liked West’s Batman or not, you can’t say he wasn’t being true to the character as the comics portrayed him at the time.

While later Batmans were noted for being “darker” (in other words, less family-friendly), West managed to bring fun to the role by embracing how campy the proceedings were. While we may poke fun at some of the dialogue, West read those lines like nobody’s business (besides, I’m sure there are some people who would love to have Shark Repellent Bat-Spray at their disposal). His charisma made people actually want to play Batman themselves, something that none of the previous or subsequent Bat-actors managed to duplicate. In fact, the only one who came close was Kevin Conroy, who voiced the Caped Crusader on Batman: The Animated Series, which aired on Fox from 1992-1995.

West himself would voice a character on that series. In addition, he voiced Batman on several animated shows. This illustrates how, despite initial attempts to move past his superhero role, West would eventually embrace his legacy as Batman. This was proven when he and Ward played both themselves and their TV personas in the 2003 TV movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt. Gorshin, Newmar, and Meriwether also appeared in the film, which revolves around the heroes’ attempt to retrieve the Batmobile they used on their show after it gets stolen. The film itself is a wonderful look at how not only the title characters, but the whole cast could laugh at and embrace who they were.

As a result, West would continue to entertain and inspire millions.

Farewell, old chum! You shall be missed, and thanks for giving the world such great entertainment.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sir Roger Moore: 1927-2017

This Agony Booth article is an affectionate look at Sir Roger and his legacy.
I was originally preparing to review Licence to Kill, the 16th (official) James Bond film and probably the most controversial entry in the entire series. However, the recent passing of Sir Roger Moore prompted me to change my plans.

In terms of the Bond films, I was introduced to the 007s of both Moore and Sir Sean Connery simultaneously. I remember seeing Moore’s Bond entries on the big screen while also getting myself acquainted with Connery’s whenever they aired on TV. As a result, I was able to understand why Connery is praised as the definitive Bond in many quarters, but also still develop an affinity for Moore’s.

Moore was actually one of the initial actors sought for the role when Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli began the Bond series with Dr. No. But Moore was prevented from slipping into Bond’s tuxedo at that point because he was already signed on to do the TV series The Saint. When Connery sat out making the sixth Bond entry, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moore’s name was again brought up, but his TV schedule kept him from signing on. Television again kept Moore from agreeing to play Bond again for the follow-up Diamonds are Forever, because he agreed to star in the TV series The Persuaders, which Moore helped develop.

The fact that Moore was an early contender for the role from the beginning made it seem inevitable that he would finally be able to play 007 in the eighth Bond film, Live and Let Die.

Unlike George Lazenby (who played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Moore was willing to play Bond for several movies. This allowed audiences to accept Live and Let Die on its own terms, while On Her Majesty’s, for a time, was dismissed by some because of the behind the scenes drama of that picture (check out the way ABC basically butchered the picture when it originally aired on TV, and you’ll see what I mean). While comparisons to Connery’s Bond were naturally inevitable, the success of Live and Let Die was the first true example of people willing to accept a new 007.

As with Connery’s reign as 007, Moore’s third outing in the role is often cited as the height of his tenure. Like Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me perfectly balances the use of state of the art gadgetry with moments of genuine suspense. The villains, music, and theme songs of both films are also exceptional. While Spy bears no resemblance to Fleming’s novel of the same name (in fairness, this was due to Fleming’s wish that only the title be used when it came to making a movie of that specific book), both films are true to the character.

As I mentioned earlier, Licence to Kill is probably the most controversial Bond picture. While that’s a discussion for another time, in recent years, I’ve found myself wondering if the word “controversial” could also be applied to Moore’s Bond. Yes, all seven of his Bond movies were financially successful; however, there have always been 007 fans, even in those pre-Internet days when his tenure of Bond began, who have expressed their displeasure with his Bond films, specifically with the lighter touch he brought to the role. Some have also shamelessly pointed out Moore’s age, as he remains the oldest actor to strap on Bond’s Walther PPK (he was 47 when making Live and Let Die).

In regards to the rants about being more light-hearted: while I agree that giving the villainous Jaws a girlfriend in Moonraker was stupid, Moore himself retained his 007-suaveness throughout his films. One of my favorite moments of his films is in Octopussy, Moore’s sixth Bond picture, in which 007 must disguise himself as a clown in order to stop an A-bomb from destroying a circus full of people. The idea of Bond dressed as a clown by itself sounds ridiculous. However, Moore’s terrific job at projecting both anger and fear helped make this scene a truly suspenseful moment.

I must also point out a memorable moment in Moore’s fifth Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only. In this film, Moore manages to shoot the assassin Locque (Michael Gothard) before Locque runs him down with his car. The gunshot hits Locque in the shoulder, causing him to lose control of his vehicle, which ends up precariously hanging over a cliff. Bond calmly walks over to the car containing the helpless Locque and reminds the assassin that he murdered one of his colleagues, before sending Locque to his death by kicking the car over the cliff. Moore had reservations about his Bond performing such an act, but Eyes director John Glen convinced him that this would be a wonderful, intense moment—a moment which showed that, like Connery, Moore could play Bond as ruthless as well as charming.

One of my colleagues wrote a nice review of the second Bond film From Russia With Love a while back. That review correctly points out that Robert Shaw’s Grant was such a great character because Shaw himself matched Connery when it came to the intensity he could bring to the role. A nice parallel in the case of Moore’s Bond is Sir Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga, the title character in Moore’s second Bond flick, The Man with the Golden Gun. As with Connery and Shaw, Moore and Lee share wonderful scenes and exchanges of dialogue. Moore even gets one of his best lines in that film with, “When I kill, it’s under specific orders from my government… and those I kill are themselves killers!” As a result, I actually want to laugh when I hear people criticize Sir Roger’s Bond for being “too silly”.

The age issue was inevitable, considering that Hollywood has always been notorious for its ageism. Heck, people poked fun at Connery’s age when he agreed to reprise Bond for the pointless Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again. As the 1980s got underway, Moore made news for his attempts to exit the Bond franchise. The fact that Cubby Broccoli managed to get the actor to sign for his last three Bond pics shows that the producer had great trust in Moore’s star power, regardless of his age. Moore even did some of his own stunts in the aforementioned Octopussy.

Putting aside the fact that Connery’s 007 was known for his witticisms, Fleming’s Bond stories themselves are basically exaggerated, romanticized versions of Fleming’s own career in British Intelligence. While the books themselves may not have as many witty lines as the movies, both succeed in generating elegance as well as intrigue. I’ve even read interviews with several real-life intelligence operatives over the years stating that Bond makes their profession out to be a lot more exciting than it actually is.

Also, considering how the Bond films would get bigger budgets with each outing (unlike other film series), having Bond actually go into space in Moonraker was only a matter of time, if you ask me. While I’m happy that the subsequent entries were literally more down to earth, taking Bond to the stars seemed to me a nice one-time gimmick (some may say timely, considering that the American space program was running strong at the time).

Hence, Moore’s Bond is, overall, not much more of a deviation from the Bond books than Connery’s. In addition, while a movie should certainly adhere to the source material it claims to be based on, deviations can also be beneficial. I’ve read all of Fleming’s Bond books more than once and I’ll no doubt do so again, as they’re entertaining. But I find that Moore (and Connery) brought a carefree aspect to the character that wasn’t present in the books. and this aspect helped the movies become successful.

Sir Roger ended his 12-year Bond career with A View to a Kill. While that film has its critics, it also has a great title song by Duran Duran, terrific villains played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, as well as a nice role for Patrick Macnee, who repeats the chemistry he had with Moore when they respectively played Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York.

While Moore’s post-Bond career never received the acclaim that Connery’s did, he managed to get some good films under his belt. My favorite of these is perhaps The Wild Geese, with Moore, Richard Burton, and Richard Harris making a great team as the title mercenaries who find themselves trapped behind enemy lines thanks to the very person who hired them.

But Moore became most proud of his work with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. With the encouragement of his friend Audrey Hepburn, Moore joined the organization in the early 1990s and traveled the world helping children living in poverty get the chance at a better life. He also fought for animal rights by working with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), even narrating a video for the organization.

Moore’s charity work would make an even bigger impact than his acting work, which is why he was knighted in 2003.

He even found a way to interconnect his acting fame with his charity work by hosting an auction of James Bond memorabilia in 2012. The proceeds from this auction raised nearly $1 million for UNICEF. This led to Moore receiving the organization’s first UK Lifetime Achievement Award.

Whether you like his work as Bond or not, there’s no doubt that Moore helped ensure that 007 wouldn’t just be a fad of the 1960s. The fact that he would end up making the same number of Bond movies as Connery (seven) certainly says something.

Moore’s subsequent work would also prove that he wasn’t just an actor, but a true humanitarian as well.